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04 11, 2012 by Daily Comet
U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, touted increased oil-and-gas drilling and an alternative to President Obama’s health-care-reform law during a speech Tuesday in Thibodaux.
Cassidy, whose district was redrawn last year to encompass parts of northern Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, spoke Tuesday to the Thibodaux Rotary Club.
“I’m not representing you yet, but I expect to soon,” he said, “and I can’t represent you unless I come here and hear your concerns.”
Cassidy said he plans to open a district office in Thibodaux late this year or early next year if he wins this fall’s congressional election.
He said his main focus has and will continue to be three major issues: jobs and the economy, health care, and coastal restoration.
Cassidy advocated dramatically increasing natural-gas production, arguing it would cause a “renaissance” of employment and economic activity.
“The road to economic recovery, the road to jobs, leads through energy,” he said. “That’s something anybody in south Louisiana can tell you, but that hasn’t settled in with our nation’s political class yet.”
Cassidy railed against Obama’s health-care-reform law, claiming it will increase spending by the state and federal governments.
“Medicare and Medicaid are the black holes that are sucking in our money. They’re the reason why we’re having to make so many cuts,” he said. “The president’s plan is only going to make that worse.”
Instead, Cassidy said he supports a plan proposed by Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Democrat Alice Rivlin, a former Congressional Budget Office head. Among its provisions, the bill would give senior citizens taxpayer-funded vouchers to buy either private or government health insurance instead of relying solely on Medicare.
Cassidy also said he’s trying to bring national attention to the issue of coastal erosion.
“People don’t know it, but the eroding coast is literally washing away our energy infrastructure,” he said. “I’m always trying to tell my colleagues about it, and once they have it explained to them, they’re on board with it.”
Cassidy said he’s heard many coastal experts, including local levee officials like Terrebonne’s Reggie Dupre, praise the master plan for coastal work unveiled by the state earlier this year. The plan awaits approval from the Legislature during its current session.
“When I hear Reggie say he likes a plan, that makes me feel good about it too,” he said.
Cassidy said the state has a good chance of finding most of the $50 billion for the plan’s projects because much of it would come from fines expected to be levied against BP for damage caused by the 2010 Gulf oil spill. But he acknowledged that Louisiana’s congressional delegation will have to continue its fight to ensure those fines get directed to coastal states and to secure federal money to cover other costs.
“Voters in this area should keep the pressure up on their legislators to fight for money for restoration,” he said. “That’s the most important thing they can be doing right now.”
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